UFC 235, 3rd March 2019 - Las Vegas, Nevada
Finally, a really, really good card in 2019. There are at least half a dozen fights on this card that I am excited about and I haven't been able to say that so far this year! There are so many potential bets and fights that I have an opinion on that I am going to have to heavily rein myself in.
Mickey Gall v Diego Sanchez
First up we have what should be an interesting match up between the suicidally aggressive Sanchez in his 28th UFC fight (39th pro-fight overall) and the submission specialist Gall in only his 7th professional bout.
I have to say I wish that Sanchez had hung up the gloves two or three fights ago. His hyper aggressive style means he will always be in the kind of fights that are not good for brain health in the long term and he appears to already be showing some signs of wear and tear. He always had a granite chin but that seems to have been well and truly cracked now having been ko'd twice in his last three outings.
However Gall doesn't offer much of a KO threat - he is somewhat of a one trick pony with all his victories coming by way of rear naked choke. Sanchez has never been submitted in 39 fights and I think that must be a bit of a worry for anybody who fancies Gall here
Sanchez has a lot miles on the clock and is certainly not the fighter he once was but he remains several levels above anybody Gall has faced before. I struggle to view his chances as being anything like as slim as the 9/4 on offer. He's the underdog in this but not by that much.
Advice 1 pt win Diego Sanchez @ 3.25 generally
Jon Jones v Anthony Smith
Whatever I say, I know this will be a controversial pick.
Jon Jones is quite possibly the greatest martial artist who has ever lived. He has utterly dominated a murderers' row of light heavyweights and made the greats look less than ordinary. He remains unbeaten in all but name (I don't count his disqualification as a real loss) and the only time he has looked even remotely in trouble was in the first fight against Alexander Gustaffson - a fight that he barely trained for according to the rumour mill. He managed to triumph there in extreme adversity and dispatched Gustaffson with ease in the recent rematch.
So, how can I pick against the greatest of all time, you might ask?
I don't believe that any competent professional fighter should be priced at 6/1 in a fist fight - and Anthony Smith is a good bit more than just a competent professional fighter! Smith is a beast with close to 70 amateur and professional fights behind him and currently on a streak of devastating finishes against the best in the division. The move up to light heavyweight has suited him perfectly and he appears rejuvenated.
All of that is probably not enough here and of course he is likely to lose against the best to ever do it. But 6/1? That underestimates his chances to a significant degree. After all, they are both just men with two arms and two legs.
Advice: 0.5pt win Anthony Smith @ 6/1 generally
I will also put the above 2 selections in a 0.25 pt double.
Please remember that we are betting on very big underdogs in both these bets and stake accordingly! Even if the prices are significantly wrong (which they are) they still give some indication that both bets are likely to lose. We are playing the long game and these type of bets will make substantial profits in the long term but on a bet by bet basis, anything can happen.
That's it for my proper bets but I will be having some interest elsewhere on the card - the prices just aren't quite wrong enough to justify a bet.
Here are my opinions for what they are worth:
Woodley v Usman
I think Tyron Woodley beats Kamaru Usman quite comfortably. Both fighters have a high level wrestling background - just Woodley's background is at a considerably higher level. Usman's striking is fairly rudimentary while Woodley's is fast and incredibly explosive. I'd love to get involved in this one but I think the bookies have the prices about right.
Stephens v Magomedsharipov
Jeremy Stephens has been around for a long time and has fought most of the best guys. He's won a lot of those fights but he has pretty much always lost when up against the elite of the division.
Magomedsharipov represents a new breed of fighter - one who came up learning MMA as a sport in itself rather than transitioning from another martial art. He is good at EVERYTHING.
I think this is one of those occasions where Stephens comes up short and we see the coming out party for a very special new talent in Magomedsharipov.
Askren v Lawler
After all the trials and tribulations, Askren is finally in the UFC and we get to see if he can reproduce his utter dominance against the very best in the world.
Personally I think he can and while Lawler is a tough first ask for anybody, I take Askren to get this to the ground early and keep Lawler there for the rest of the fight. Unfortunately, the bookies do too.
Cirkunov v Walker
The bizarrely named Brazilian Johnny Walker has burst on to the scene like a breath of fresh air in a light heavyweight division which is currently quite underwhelming. He's smashed his way through Khalil Rountree and Justin Ledet in a combined 2 minutes and 12 seconds - and done it in highlight reel fashion.
Cirkunov is a talented grappler and is always a threat on the ground but Walker is huge and explosively athletic. I can see him adding another devastating early finish to his highlight reel and vaulting into the Top 10 after only 3 UFC fights.
You could do worse than combine those 4 selections in a best price Yankee/Lucky 15. If they all win you'd secure a profit of 5 points or so, if one were to let us down it would end with a tiny loss. Not quite enough in it at the prices to make it an official bet but I'll be throwing a few quid at it to enhance my enjoyment of those fights
That's all from me. Have a great weekend and be lucky!